Freo's View

NO COMPROMISES FOR FREO’S WEST END

Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on August 12, 2017

 

The FREMANTLE HERALD was kind enough to publish my Thinking Allowed about the necessary protection of Fremantle’s permanently heritage-listed West End this weekend. In case you don’t get the Chook home delivered or pick up a copy in town, I’ll post it here as well.

The attack by developers on Fremantle’s historic West End needs to be stopped and the City of Fremantle needs more support from State Government agencies to do that.

Applications for five-storey buildings keep coming although architects and developers are well aware that there is a three storey limit in the West End precinct.

There is an option for additional discretionary height of one floor, if it creates a better heritage outcome, or if the architecture of the building is considered to be of exceptional high quality.

What we see though are applications for boring and mediocre concrete boxes which would destroy the streetscape.

Architects show little to no respect for the spatial environment and the history of place, they just want to bang a totally inappropriate modern building in the middle of heritage buildings. This was shown in the recent application for three five-storey buildings behind Customs House in Henry Street going all the way to the former Centrelink site in Pakenham Street.

There was also a five storey application for the former Workers Club site in Henry Street, but fortunately that was rejected.

But even when Fremantle Council rejects development proposals the State’s Joint Development Assessment Panel or State Planning Commission can overrule council decisions, and they often do.

The State’s Heritage Office in my opinion sometimes also fails, as was the case with the now cancelled application by Notre Dame University for a mediocre five-storey building on the corner of High and Cliff streets. The Heritage Office recommended approval of the building, but Fremantle Council rejected it.

If UNDA had decided to go to JDAP with it they might well have approved the building the community and council did not want, on the recommendation of the Heritage Office.

It is only the sense of community and corporate responsibility of UNDA’s Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond that made the university decide to withdraw the plans for the new School of Nursing and Midwifery and start the process from scratch with a whole new design.

I am not against the development of some derelict sites and renovation of buildings in the West End, but there is nothing that can convince me that more than four storeys is appropriate for the heritage precinct. We only want outstanding development in the heritage area and nothing above four storeys!

Fremantle Council approved the five-storey nothingness of the Quest Hotel in Pakenham Street, because according to the planning and heritage officers of CoF it would preserve the interior heritage integrity of the building, but it hasn’t! Walk into the foyer of the serviced apartments buildings and you have no clue whatsoever that this is a heritage building. The blue artwork on the top corner of it is not suitable either.

Developers believe they can get away with murder in Fremantle because we are desperate for economic recovery in the port city. Yes we are, but not at any cost and the destruction of the unique character of our city.

If developers need extra height to please the bottom triple line they can develop in the east of Fremantle, and not even there indiscriminately.

Fremantle deserves more consideration when one wants to develop here and we need more support from State Government to protect the unique qualities of our city!

Roel Loopers

CITY OF FREMANTLE FINANCES SOUND

Posted in city of fremantle, economy, finances, Uncategorized by freoview on August 11, 2017

 

A small article in today’s West Australian reported that David Templeman, the Minister for Local Government, had announced that 15 per cent of, or 22 local councils in W.A. were considered to be high risk by the department.

They include the City of Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Exmouth, Derby, Carnarvon, etc. but the article did not go into detail as to why these councils are judged to be high risk.

The claim about Fremantle’s finances has been made before, and rejected by the City, but I thought it would be prudent to ask them for a comment. Here it is:

Today’s page 14 newpaper article in The West Australian: ‘More councils high-risk’ has named the City of Fremantle as being identified by the Department of Local Government as ‘high risk’.

The City assumes it was included in this list due to a one-off low Financial Health Indicator (FHI) score for the 2015/16 financial year. The lower than usual score was caused by a combination of factors including a change in accounting methodology used by the City to simplify the way overhead costs are recorded. This change artificially inflated the year-on-year operating expenditure in 2015/16.

With this anomaly addressed in subsequent budgets, the City’s FHI score will normalise back to its long-term healthy trend when the 2016/17 audit is completed.

In previous reports issued by the Department of Local Government the City of Fremantle has not ever been classified as being in any risk category, let alone a high risk.

The City is independently audited each year and no audit has ever indicated any fundamental issues or problems with the City’s medium or long-term financial viability.

I wonder if it should not be a matter of course for the Department of Local Government to notify local councils of their findings and concerns and offer support to them, and clarify how they reached the findings.

 

Roel Loopers

ELECTION TIME IS EMPTY PROMISES TIME

Posted in city of fremantle, democracy, elections, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on August 2, 2017

 

Politicians promise us the world before elections, but often disappoint us when they get elected when they don’t honour all those promises.

The Fremantle Council elections are only a couple of months away and already we have candidates who tell us they will change this and change that and do so and so, if elected. But the basic fact is that individual candidates cannot dictatorially change anything, because every elected member has just one vote on council. That includes the Mayor, who also has the casting vote if the other 12 elected members have a hung vote.

Council process is a democratic one, so to achieve changes one needs to convince the majority of fellow councillors, and that is a pretty robust debate and often lengthy process with changes and motions made to fine tune the outcome.

It is easy to slag off on the present council, because they can rightly or wrongly be judged on past performance, while new candidates have no record. All the wannabe councillors have to do is make-often empty-promises and criticise the present members. That is a bit too simplistic for me.

I want candidates with new innovative ideas, long-term strategic planning, not just whingers who blame everything they don’t like on their local council.

Candidates blame things on Fremantle Council that are the responsibility of State Government. The moving of TAFE from Beaconsfield, the downgrading of Fremantle Hospital, crime and anti-social behaviour, the global retail downturn, etc.

The reality is that a local council can do very little about these things as law&order are police responsibility for example. The City of Fremantle has put more security rangers on the street but they don’t have the power of arrest or even giving move-on notices.

I have been scrutinising Fremantle Council and its administration for over ten years and go to 75 per cent of council and committee meetings to witness myself what goes on there. While there have been many occasions I don’t agree with the outcome I have always been impressed with the thoroughness and high standard of the debate during the process.

There is absolutely no doubt that there are many levels the City of Fremantle can improve at, and most of that is up to the administration.

Politically there will always be polarisation. Those who do or don’t agree with the Australia Day change, that was badly handled in my opinion, or if we should have higher density in the inner city, should environmental issues be a priority for a local government, is banning plastic bags tokenism, etc.etc.

As a community we often lament the perceived lack of community consultation, but the sad reality is that most people can’t be bothered to attend meetings, as the recent South Fremantle speedhump saga showed.

Far too many people to my liking base their opinion about Fremantle Council on ignorance. They are badly informed, or not at all.

Some of the stuff I hear election candidates say indicates to me that not all of them know what they are talking about either, and that is disappointing.

If we want a better council we need to do better at informing ourselves and participate in community consultation. That takes commitment and time.

If we are serious about wanting to be part of the solution and drawing up the future of Fremantle, we need to get off the couch and experience first hand how local government works.

There is a lot of unfair criticism out there that is not based on facts. Sometimes the devils we know, those with actual local government experience, are better than the devils we don’t know, but who make lots and lots of unrealistic promises. Voters beware!

 

Roel Loopers

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT JUST (ABOUT) RUBBISH

Posted in australia day, city of fremantle, local government, politics, Uncategorized by freoview on July 31, 2017

 

With the Fremanle local government election just two months and three weeks away I have been contemplating what the role of local government actually is.

Some people in our community believe it is all about delivering services, collecting rubbish, cleaning streets, etc. but is there a bigger picture our Elected Members should also be involved in?

I personally believe there is because local politicians are the closest to grassroots democracy and should inspire state and federal governments.

I asked Dr. Martin Drum, Professor of Politics and International Relations and Chief of Staff of the Vice Chancellor at Fremantle Notre Dame University and this was his reply:

“Elected representatives have both a deliberative and representative function. We focus a lot on the deliberative part, where our MPs and councillors are empowered to make decisions on our behalf. They decide what proposed developments can and cant proceed, they decide what does and doesn’t get funded. Some people argue that this is all our elected representatives should do.

But our representatives are also expected to represent the community which elects them. In electing them, we have authorised them to do this. Representation is arguably even more important than deliberation because it helps shape the identity of a community. Our councillors are the voice of the people they represent. If you ask me, its especially important for elected representatives to speak up for people who dont have the capacity to represent themselves.

Fremantle is a special part of Western Australia. It’s a little different to other areas. Local representatives need to speak to this difference. That is why the council, the sum body of local representatives in Fremantle, should feel free to speak up about the date of Australia Day, especially if their community has communicated this to them.

Elected representatives get judged not only by the decisions they make but also by how effective they are at representing people.

Whether a particular policy position is a good or bad one (such as moving Australia Day, opposing Roe 8, banning plastic bags) is up to the Fremantle community to judge, but there is no doubt that elected representatives are entitled to speak about them. We expect that people we elect become a voice of the people they represent, so they should speak up.

Those who are running as alternatives should likewise feel free to express their views on these issues. Competition for political office is healthy and should be welcomed. We then expect the public to judge them on that come the next election. That’s why I think being accountable and transparent is important.

Personally I always hope that debate focuses on the issues rather than the person, but that’s a pretty idealistic position these days.”

There is no doubt though that Council needs to have its priorities right and that people in the community rightly complain when basic maintenance is not done. One has to consider and acknowledge though that the day to day running of the City of Fremantle is done by the administration.

There is also an absolute and non-negotiable need for excellent community consultation, which was lacking on the Australia Day changes. This should have been handled much better as it polarised the community and became a political, and sadly sometimes racist, debate.

The positive thing about the initiative of Fremantle Council is that the Australia Day date and plastic bags ban now have become a national debate and that looks like pretty healthy democracy to me.

I agree with Dr Martin Drum that the debate should focus on issues rather than on the person. Respectful dialogue is essential to move forward together, and I especially am aware that it is not always easy to keep that in mind when one has a passion for Freo.

 

Roel Loopers

ATTACK ON FREO’S HISTORIC WEST END STOPPED

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on July 27, 2017

 

Pakenham Street development proposal

 

I am delighted that Fremantle Council last night unanimously rejected the application for three five-storey buildings in Fremantle’s West End.

The three buildings would have been built from the Customs House on the corner of Henry and Phillimore Street all the way to Pakenham Street and would have destroyed the West End forever and set a precedent for future massive buildings.

Not only did our Councillors reject the application but the State Heritage Office also recommended its refusal.

Councillor Bryn Jones said that the reasons for the refusal are very comprehensive and it would have been the end of the West End as we know it.

Councillor Andrew Sullivan said the development was significantly out of order and that the permanent state heritage listing of the West End was a game changer that would have an impact on how the State’s Joined Development Assessment Panel(JDAP) would rule on future applications for the historic area.

Councillor Jones said that JDAP cannot approve a development when the State Heritage Office recommend it to be rejected.

There is incredible arrogance by architects trying to get five-storey buildings in the West End, when the planning scheme only allows for three storeys, with a possible discretionary additional storey for outstanding architecture or heritage preservation.

The proposed buildings show absolute disrespect for the heritage significance of the beautiful West End and are very basic, boring, mediocre TBL(tripple bottom line) boxes that would do nothing to enhance the area.

The attack by developers on the West End needs to stop and the State Government needs to step in and be stronger and make sure that the DAP does not approve future five-storey applications.

Councillor Bryn Jones reminded us last night that the State Heritage Office had recommended the Notre Dame University five-storey building in High Street for approval and that is a serious worry.

It was only the university’s Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond’s respect for Fremantle Council and the Freo community that saw Notre Dame withdraw the development application after public rejection.

That building will now be totally redesigned to accommodate the wishes of the community. That is responsible and respectful development other developers should take heed off!

 

Roel Loopers

 

LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT ABORIGINAL TOURISM

Posted in aboriginal, city of fremantle, indigenous, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on July 26, 2017

 

When it comes to Aboriginal issues tokenism is always high, and walking the talk less of a reality.

Yesterday WA Minister for Tourism Paul Papalia stated that Aboriginal culture is WA’s secret weapon, but it appears the minister was only talking about giving tourists an outback experience, with no plans to offer an Aboriginal experience in Perth, Fremantle and other major cities around the state.

It is quite disturbing that neither of the two major cities has a serious Aboriginal cultural centre where overseas visitors can find out about Aboriginal history, culture, art, music, story telling, and food.

The City of Fremantle made a half-hearted attempt by running a small historic cottage at Arthur Head as the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre, but it was doomed to failure from the start, because of the inappropriate small building and location.

When one goes up to Derby the Mowanjum Aboriginal Centre is a great place to visit, as is the Aboriginal art centre at Warmun (Turkey Creek) and Mangkaja in Fitzroy Crossing, but there is nothing like that in the Perth metro area, but for commercial art galleries run by white fellas.

It is time the State Government started walking the talk and helped funding some serious Aboriginal cultural centres in our cities!

 

Roel Loopers

SAY NO TO RUBBISH DEVELOPMENT IN FREO’S WEST END!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on July 21, 2017

 

Pakenham Street development proposal

 

EARLY WARNING FOR HERITAGE PROTECTION!!!!!

The absolutely inappropriate huge five-storey development for Fremantle’s Pakenham Street and the Customs Building is on the Fremantle Council agenda for this coming Wednesday.

It needs to be refused and it needs to be made clear to the WA Development Assessment Panel(JDAP) that the Fremantle community will not compromise on the preservation of the historic West End!

I understand that the C0F officers’ recommendation is for a robust refusal of the proposal, but we need to be there in force to tell our Elected Members that this is a rubbish proposal. It’s not only too heigh and too big for the heritage precinct, but it is also very ugly.

I will publish more about this once the agenda becomes available on-line at 4pm today, and when I have read all the details of the Fremantle Design Advisory Panel and planning staff.

SAY NO TO RUBBISH DEVELOPMENT IN FREO’S HERITAGE WEST END PRECINCT!

Roel Loopers

GRANTS FOR HERITAGE CONSERVATION AVAILABLE

Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, state government, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on July 20, 2017

 

 

WA Minister for Heritage, Culture and the Arts David Templeman MLA liked my blog post about the heritage listing of Fremantle’s West End so much that he shared it on his Facebook page. That’s a nice acknowledgement, so thank you David.

I forgot to mention in that post on Wednesday that private owners are eligible to apply for a Heritage Council grant of up to $ 100,000 to help with conservation works.

 

Roel Loopers

 

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STUPID WA OVER REGULATION

Posted in fremantle, law&order, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on June 5, 2017

 

rukes 2

rules 1

 

 

Overseas tourists to Western Australia often mention that there are too many rules and regulations in our state, and that it is expensive over here.

Two large signs on the Fremantle Esplanade at the WA DAY event shows how stupid, irrelevant and inappropriate a lot of these rules are.

No drugs and alcohol. Well it is already illegal so why bother. No chairs, seats, whatever and the one that irritated me most was the rule about no professional photography.

The event was not fenced off so the Esplanade remained a public open space and hence every photographer, professional or amateur, with a pro SLR or just a mobile phone was allowed to take photos by law. I was hoping someone would try to stop me so I could have given them a blast, but no luck.

I assume that the Freo signs are just copies of what they put up at Elizabeth Quay but why bother!

Roel Loopers

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WESTERN POWER BALL

Posted in energy, fremantle, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on May 30, 2017

 

WP 2

WP 1

Western Power must have won the Powerball as it is hard to imagine how our financially broke state can afford 41 vehicles attending one job at Hampton Road in Fremantle. I counted them.

Roel Loopers

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